Cricket

Coaching India has been my biggest challenge: Ravi Shastri

After the tremendous success in Sri Lanka after winning the Test series 2-1 Indian coaching staffs led by Ravi Shastri has been given extension by the BCCI.

Team director Ravi Shastri along with Coaches Sanjay Bangar(Batting), Bharat Arun(Bowling), and R Sridhar(Fielding) has been instrumental in India’s historical success in Sri Lanka after 22 years which has prompted the board to extend their roles till World Twenty20 next year.

But coaching India, where experts are at large and expectations never cease, is not an easy job, which Shastri totally agrees with.

“It has given me immense job satisfaction. It has been the biggest challenge for me in all the years I have been involved in the game in whatever capacity,” Shastri told the official BCCI website in an interview.“My willingness and desire to carry on in this role stems from the fact that I have got a great team with me – a great bunch of players and an amazing support staff.”

Arun and Sridhar were relatively unknown for the fans, but with results showing they are known figures as well.

“They have been involved in the system for many, many years and know all these players from a under-19 stage. Arun, as a coach and manager, Sridhar as a coach and Sanjay as a player who has recently retired knows these players’ mindsets well,” the Team India director said.

“They connect with the players. The boys can confide in them and trust them. All these three men have been putting in honest efforts in doing everything they can to get the best out of the players,” he said.

Two of the revelations on the tour of Sri Lanka were Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin; however, the former, despite his stupendous bowling, came in for a lot of criticism due to some unwarranted behaviour, which also earned him a one-Test suspension.

But Shastri said Ishant will only learn from this.

“He bowled like a million dollars in Sri Lanka. And this is not the last of him. We will continue to see him bowl like that in the future, now that he has gained an immense understanding of his bowl.

“I know he has copped a lot of flak over the aggression and he will learn where to draw a line. But let me assure you, he has the backing of the entire team. I want him to be aggressive and I will be the first one to push him in that direction. But I will also mark the line,” Shastri said.

Ishant, unfortunately, won’t be available for the opening Test against South Africa and Shastri admitted that his services will be missed.

“We will miss him for the first Test. He is our most experienced fast bowler. He bowled beautifully in Sri Lanka and is in the form of his life,” Shastri told BCCI.tv.

Ashwin was the highest wicket-taker for India in Sri Lanka, leading the attack and supported brilliantly by Ishant and legspinner Amit Mishra. Shastri said the key to the offspinner’s success was that he now understands what is expected of him.

“Ashwin was amazing in Sri Lanka, and that’s because he was patient and relaxed,” Shastri said. “For him to understand his own bowling and what the team needs of him were the need of the hour. And I think he has realized that.

“We know he has got the brain of an astronaut. He has combined that intelligence with calmness and patience now. That bodes well for us because now the astronaut’s mind is helping Team India take flight. For me, Ashwin is the best offspinner in the world at the moment. Nathan Lyon is a very good offspinner, but the variety of this man Ashwin can bring to the plate is unreal.

“The biggest testament to Ashwin’s brilliance was the way he bowled to Kumar Sangakkara. To stifle a class batsman like Sanga in his crease four times in a row was the mark of a world-class spinner who has realized that he is a world-class spinner,” he said.

 

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